It was September 1883 in the Colony of South Australia and six-year-old Denny was out hunting for roosting hens. With a vivid pointed face and brown skin, he was a strong, good runner, and his mother held him close with love. On this day, his father was out planting parsnips and his sisters were at a wedding in town, leaving Denny and his mother alone to enjoy their time together.
Denny gathered eggs in a basket and brought them to his mother, who had finished hanging the sheets on the line behind the house. She bent down to him and pressed her face against his neck. His mother was deaf and spoke little, but Denny knew when she wanted him close. She made him put on his boots and sent him out with a sack to gather grass, bark, and twigs for the fire.
As Denny walked away from the red hill, he encountered a kangaroo, which he knew the story of. He felt sorrow for the kangaroo, which stayed on the dry, flat plain while its cousin the wallaroo lived up in the hills. He followed it for its dung, which also burned, and because he was also waiting for something to happen.
Suddenly, a dust storm blew in from the north. Denny held the sack across his face as his father had taught him to do and turned around to walk home. But he got lost in the dust and when the storm had passed, his mother went out into the yard and spat red onto the red ground. She looked for him in the direction he had gone and saw no sign.
This is the story of Denny in the Colony of South Australia in 1883, a boy who encountered a god by a hollow tree, collected eggs in a basket, and got lost in a dust storm. It’s a story of love between a mother and son, of sorrow for a kangaroo, and of waiting for something to happen.